News & ToursFebruary 14, 2008

This week's syllabus: Feb. 14-20

__THE FAB FIVE

My look at the top five teams in the country right now

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  1. Charlotte (Last week's rank: 1)

The 49ers will have waited 102 days between the last round of the fall season at the Pacific Invitational and their first round of the spring season at the John Hayt. By contrasts, the layoff from the final round of the NCAA Championship last June to the first round of the fall season was 101 days.

Next event: John Hayt Collegiate Invitational, Sawgrass CC, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Feb. 17-19

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  1. Alabama (2)

In defending titles from the 2006-07 season, the Crimson Tide is 2-0 entering this week's John Hayt Collegiate, with wins at the Carpet Capital and the Jerry Pate.

Next event: John Hayt Collegiate Invitational, Sawgrass CC, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Feb. 17-19

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  1. Tennessee (3)

Before winning the Ping/Arizona event to start the spring, the Vols played their inter-squad Ryder Cup style tournament back in Knoxville. The Europeans claimed victory over the Americans, winning 5-3.

Next event: John Hayt Collegiate Invitational, Sawgrass CC, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Feb. 17-19

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__ 4.__ Georgia (4)

The Bulldogs have gotten impressive performances of freshmen Harris English (two wins, 70.78 avg.) and Russell Henley (two top-10s, 71.0 avg.)--both of whom attended Georgia summer golf camps at ages 12 and 11, respectively). But as I wrote about in this week's issue of Golf World, the tricky part now is for them in the spring is to maintain their confidence while not feeling too much pressure to duplicate their fall performances.

Next event: Puerto Rico Classic, Rio Mar CC, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, Feb. 29-March 2

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  1. UCLA (5)

The Bruins should have good vibes in Florida next week, an event they won in 2006. Still, it will be curious to see how the Bruins bounce back from their third-place finish at the spring opener in Tucson.__ __

Next event: John Hayt Collegiate Invitational, Sawgrass CC, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Feb. 17-19

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WOMEN

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  1. UCLA (3)

While no player broke par individually, the Bruins had four post top-10 finishes—Glory Yang, Tiffany Joh, Sydnee Michaels and Maria Jose Uribe—en route to a seven-shot victory at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge to open the spring. UCLA still hasn't finished out of the top three in five starts.

Next event: Arizona Wildcat Invitational, Arizona National GC, Tucson, Feb. 25-27


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2.__ Duke__ (1)

When the Blue Devils travel to Tucson in two weeks, it will be the last time they compete against the West Coast powers until the NCAA postseason. It also will be the last time they travel farther than Georgia.

Next event: Arizona Wildcat Invitational, Arizona National GC, Tucson, Feb. 25-27

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  1. Southern California (4)

A T-10 finish from senior All-American Paola Moreno at the Northrop Grumman, where the team finished third behind UCLA and Florida, is welcome news for Trojan fans after three fall starts with just one other top-10 showing. A T-10 from sophomore Stefanie Endstrasser, making her first start for USC since transferring from Purdue, is another shot in the arm.

Next event: Arizona Wildcat Invitational, Arizona National GC, Tucson, Feb. 25-27

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  1. Florida (NR)

The Gators demonstrated in their runner-up finish at the Northrop Grumman that they were deeper than just the departed Sandra Gal, with Jessica Yadloczky and Whitney Myers sharing runner-up honors individually with three-over 219s, (one back of medalist Natalie Sheary of Wake Forest). Still the question remains if they can replace Gal's low scores week in and week out.

Next event: SunTrust Lady Gator Invitational, Mark Bostick GC at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., Feb. 22-24

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  1. Arizona State (2)

Slow starts (302 in first round put them in eighth place) keeps Sun Devils from being able to defend their title at Northrop Grumman. Clawing back to fourth place by tournament's end is impressive (as was Azahara Munoz's runner-up finish), but ASU can't stake quality opponents to such large leads. That's what happened at nationals last year, if I'm not mistaken.

Next event: Arizona Wildcat Invitational, Arizona National GC, Tucson, Feb. 25-27

__STAT OF THE WEEK

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Number of golfers in the last four playings of the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational who have finished under par after 54 holes at Sawgrass CC

2005:__ Matt Every__, Florida, one-under 215

2004:__ Jason Hartwick__, Texas, five-under 211;Erik Johansen, South Carolina, two-under 214;Gregg Jones, Clemson, one-under 215;Jake Thompson, South Carolina, one-under 215



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WHAT TO WATCH FOR__

  • Could Stanford's NCAA Championship hangover finally have ended? The No. 8 Cardinal men won their first event since the national title at last week's UH-Hilo Intercollegiate, posting a 27-under 813 at Waikoloa Village GC, three strokes better than Arizona State and Southern California. In five fall starts, Stanford had four top-fives but lacked the drive that pushed it to seven wins in 2006-07. Coach Conrad Ray hopes the team has turned a corner, but he still has work to do to get return the group to last year's form. Only senior Rob Grube and freshman Sihwan Kim cracked the top 25 in Hawaii, quite different from the balanced scoring the championship team displayed. First order of business: Get slumping sophomore Joseph Bramlett back on track. The 19-year-old didn't qualify for Hawaii but his experience is something Stanford could use in the postseason.

*    Editor's note, Feb. 18: Bramlett actually did not miss the Hawaii by not qualifying. He's out 6 to 8 weeks with wrist injury.*

  • The Watch List for the Ben Hogan Award will be released next week. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm on the committee to help that helps pick the winner. All I can say at this point is there's no real surprises at this point. Semifinalists will be picked April 16 and the three finalists will be selected announced May 7, with the winner named at the black-tie award ceremony at Colonial CC in Fort Worth on May 18.


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UPCOMING TOURNAMENTS

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John Hayt Collegiate Invitational__

(For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)

Sawgrass CC (Par 72, 6,895 yards)

Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Feb. 17-19

Host: North Florida

Field: Alabama, Alabama-Birmingham, Central Florida, Charlotte, Coastal Carolina, Florida, Georgia State, Indiana, North Florida, Notre Dame, Pepperdine, South Carolina, Tennessee, UCLA, Vanderbilt

Defending champion: Alabama (17-over 881); Kevin Chappell, UCLA (two-under 214)

Skinny: The tournament, previously known as the Queen's Harbor Intercollegiate and the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate before being named after Jacksonville businessman and longtime UNF golf supporter, enters its 17th year with arguably its strongest field ever. Seven of the 15 teams are ranked in the final fall Golf World/Nike Golf coaches' poll, including No. 2 Charlotte, No. 3 Alabama and No. 4 UCLA.

Rice Intercollegiate presented by Srixon

Westwood GC (Par 72, 7,184 yards)

Houston

Feb. 18-19

Host: Rice

Field: Baylor, Charleston, Louisiana Tech, Memphis, Nebraska, Pacific, Rice, Southern Utah, UC Davis, William & Mary, Winthrop

Defending champion: Sam Houston State (36-over 900); Aaron O'Callahan, Southeastern Louisiana (one-over 217, won playoff over Harrison Moore, Charleston)

Skinny: eighth year of the event

UT-San Antonio Oak Hills Intercollegiate

Oak Hills CC (par 71, 6,691 yards)

San Antonio

Feb. 18-19

Host: UT-San Antonio

Field: Air Force, Central Arkansas, DePaul, Illinois State, Louisiana-Monroe, Marshall, McNeese State, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, San Houston State, Stephen F. Austin, Texas Tech, UT-San Antonio, Wichita State

Defending champion: Sam Houston State (13-over 865); Matt Miller, Illinois State (five-under 208)

John Burns Intercollegiate

Leilehua GC

Wahiawa, Hawaii

Feb. 20-22

Host: Hawaii

__Field:__Arizona, Arkansas, Auburn, BYU, California, Denver, Fresno State, Hawaii, Hawaii-Hilo, Long Beach State, Nagoya University of Commerce, Nevada, New Mexico, SMU, San Diego, San Diego State, San Jose State, Texas A&M, UC-Santa Barbara, UNLV, UTEP, Utah.

Defending champion: BYU (30-under 834); Frank Wrenn, SMU (13-under 203)

__Skinny:__Fourteen different American schools (and two Japanese universities) have won the tournament in its 31-year history, with Oklahoma State the leader with six team titles. Of the teams in the field this week, Arizona, BYU and UNLV each have won three times.




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WOMEN

Qdoba Invitational__

Don Shula's Golf Resort

Miami Lakes, Fla.

Feb. 16-18

Host: Miami (Fla.)

Defending champion: Louisville (60-over 924); Cindy LaCrosse, Louisville (10-over 226)__ __

Central District Invitational

(For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)

River Wilderness CC

Parrish, Fla.

Feb. 18-19

Host: Michigan State

Field: Baylor, Indiana, Kansas State, Kent State, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, SMU, Texas, Texas A&M

Defending champion: Texas A&M (10-over 874); Ashley Knoll, Texas A&M (seven-under 209)

Skinny:

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